Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Remembering Erinside School No. 1682

© 2017, Christian Cassidy

Erinside School was built on this five acre site in 1914 after a railway spur line was brought through the area. The adjacent teacher's residence was constructed in 1927.

The setting was probably as lonely then as it is now. Nearby Erinview, an unincorporated hamlet established 20 years earlier, was the more "happening" place with its own school and some businesses. Even in the area newspaper, news about at Erinside School was reported under the Erinview section.

The 1914 school year was kicked off by a picnic on June 24th with teacher, Miss Gladys Jickling and some her friends taking the 22 grade 1- 6 students to Inglis by train for a picnic. Upon their return, there was an afternoon of sports on the school grounds.

Jickling was likely the daughter of Laura and Harry Jickling who came to Manitoba in 1871. She taught at Erinside for a year, then can be found teaching in Winnipeg at Polson school by 1916. She may have later relocated to Toronto.

The school was not just a school for area residents. It also hosted dances, an annual Christmas pageant and community picnics / sports days.

January 2, 1919, Winnipeg Tribune

According to area history book Woodlands Echoes (1880-1960) this is the lineup of Erinside School teachers from 1914 to the late 1950s:

1914 Gladys Jickling; 1915 A. Sykes; 1915-16 - Margaret Martin; 1917-18 Ella Kennedy; 1918 Bertha Jones; 1920 Madeline L Proctor; 1921 Jessie Osborne; 1922 Eleanor Fisher; 1923 Harriet Simms; 1926-30 Miss I. V. Stewart; 1930-31 A. M. Thompson; 1931-36 Robert Bolton; 1940-44 Mrs. George Kiddle; 1947-52 Mrs. Ellen Ward; 1954-55 Melvin Bodnarus; 1955- ?Mrs. Jean McKinnon.

A later Stonewall Argus article notes Mrs Jim Vidal was teacher from 1962-63.

According to Woodland Echoes, the (barely) existing teacherage was built in 1927.

There is no mention of an earlier residential structure on the site but, given its isolated location, it is almost certain that there was one.

Erinside School's enrollment, which apparently peaked at 36, numbered 22 in 1914, 23 in 1923 and 12 in 1965.

The neighbouring Erinview school closed in 1942 due to a dwindling number of students. Those that remained were transferred to Erinside. That school burned down a few years later and was replaced by a cairn.

The name of the combined school division appears to have been Erinview and in later newspaper articles this school becomes referred to as Erinview School. This slight change in name causes some confusion when researching the building's later history.

Top: May 27, 1964, Stonewall Argus
Bottom: March 11, 1964, Stonewall Argus

With a dwindling numbers of students, in June 1964 the question was put before voters to dissolve Erinview School Division in favour of sending their 30 or so children to Teulon Elementary School. They agreed.

On June 12, 1964, one of the last activities at the school was the teacher and her husband, the newspaper did not mention her by name, (perhaps still Mrs. Vidal?), took the students to Lundar Fair.

At a June 28 community picnic she was presented with a gift from the school division for her service.

Two days later, June 30, the school closed for good.

 More period school photos: see MHS

The building appears to have remained unused since that time.

In the 80s or 90s, when PR 415 was widened, the school was moved a few feet north on the site.In 2011, it received an exterior renovation, (for photos over the decades see MHS.)

The school and teacherage became a municipal heritage site in 2001.

More photos of Erinside School
Erinside School - Manitoba Historical Society
Erinside School - Historic Places.ca
Woodlands Echoes (1880-1960) (pdf)

Monday, 14 August 2017

Saving rural Manitoba's heritage


My column in today's Winnipeg Free Press takes a look at three vacant rural Manitoba buildings and the efforts to preserve them. In these three cases, they have been campaigns decades in the making.

As you drive around the highways this summer, be sure to get off the beaten track and check out some of our small towns, villages and hamlet to see what secrets they share !

Here is a link to the story. Thee are the buildings I take a look at:

Rivers Train Station
Location: Rivers, Manitoba, population 1,257 (2016) 
Built: 1917
Architect: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
More information: www.riversdalyheritage.ca/station
More photos: My Flickr album

Rapid City Consolidated School
Rapid City, Manitoba, population 478 (2016) 
Built: 1902
Architect: William Alexander Elliott (also see)
Information: www.facebook.com/RapidCityMuseum
More photos: My Flickr album

Ninette Sanatorium for Consumptives
Location: Ninette, Manitoba, population 221 (2016) 
Built: 1909-10
Architect: Walter Shillinglaw (also see)
Information: www.facebook.com/NinetteSanatorium
More Photos: My Flickr album

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The story behind Winnipeg's Beaver Lumber

©2017, Christian Cassidy

I often say that every building has a story - or ten - to tell, so when Price Choppers closed earlier this year, I thought I would take a look back at the building's history.

I wasn't expecting to find much, as the building was constructed in 1968. It turns out, though, that this was Beaver Lumber's very first Winnipeg store - a surprise to me since the company was established here back in 1906.

Here's a look back at Beaver Lumber's history in our fair city.

July 27, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

Beaver Lumber's roots can be traced back to 1883 and the Banbury Bros. Lumber Company of Wolseley, Saskatchewan. For the remainder of that century they amalgamated with other Saskatchewan lumber yards to create a small chain.

Seeking to expand further, in 1906 the Banburys came to Manitoba to find partners and investors. The result was the creation of the Beaver Lumber Company.

The company headquarters were established in room 47 of what was then called the Aikins Block, now the Bate Block, at 221 McDermot Avenue at Albert Street. The first manager was Herbert Crowe, formerly of the Prairie Lumber Company,

The company soon had nearly 50 lumber yards across the prairies under its banner, Within a couple of years, it relocated to larger premises in the the Bank of Toronto building where they would remain until the mid 1920s.

Gourley ca. 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

It was Robert J. Gourley, Beaver's President and General Manager from 1910 - 1956, who was responsible for much of the early growth of Beaver.

Gourley was from Brampton, Ontario and came to Manitoba to work in the banking industry. Over the decades, he served on numerous company boards across the west. (He was also a skilled curler, leading a Stratchcona curling club to the finals of the Brier in 1931.)

In 1912, the company entered the Alberta market, then to Northern Ontario. In 1938, they tackled central Ontario and, in 1955, British Columbia.

May 29, 1968, Winnipeg Tribune

By the 1960s, Beaver Lumber consisted of 276 stores and boasted that it was the largest retailer of building materials in the country. Their success lay in the fact that they concentrated their efforts in small towns and rural areas.

In 1968, then-president Keith Kennedy announced ambitious expansion plans to open eight new stores per year in large urban centres. The first big-city store was at 677 Stafford Street at Pembina Highway in Winnipeg. (By this time, the company's headquarters were at 120 Fort Street.)

Kennedy, left and Juba at the grand opening (Tribune Photo Archives)

Winnipeg mayor and MLA, you old hold both positions together back then, Stephen Juba was on hand with Kennedy to cut the ribbon at the 18,000 square foot store on May 30, 1968.

The store's first manager was Ken Moore. He began his career with the company at their Melita, Manitoba store in 1949. In 1953, he moved to Beaver's head office as a buyer but eventually went back to managing stores.

Beaver Lumber logo (poprewind.com)

The expansion proved a success and soon attracted the attention of Molson Canada. The brewer was looking to expand into other business lines, hardware being the first.

They had just purchased Ontario-based Aikenhead's Hardware and, with the support of lumber company Macmillan Bloedel, went after Beaver.

In 1971, Molson's began buying up shares of Beaver Lumber stock and it was fairly easy pickings. No one shareholder owned more than ten per-cent of the company.

Later that year, Molson's announced that it already controlled nearly twenty per-cent of the stock and were seeking to take over the rest.

November 25, 1971, Winnipeg Free Press

At first, Beaver resisted, then it tried to negotiate a better share price. Not owing much of its own stock, however, gave it little bargaining power.

In the end, Kennedy suggested to shareholders that they take the buy-out, though in a letter to them stated: "Beaver Lumber has developed a proud and widely respected name in the industry. Losing its independence is viewed with great regret by the board of directors."

Molson's was successful and by the end of the year owned Beaver.

This wasn't their only Winnipeg-based retail takeover. In late January 1972, just weeks after the Beaver acquisition was finalized, they announced that they had bought Winnipeg-headquartered Willson Stationers.

Beaver Lumber Locations, Winnipeg, 1988

Under Alan Keyworth, Molson's president of Beaver Lumber from 1975 - 1980, the company's urban expansion continued. By the late 1970s, in Manitoba alone there were four "home centres" in Winnipeg and one in Brandon.

February 8, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

In the 1990s the tables turned on Beaver.

Once the national retail giant threatening smaller chains and independent stores, American retailer Home Depot, established in 1978 with its colossal 100,000 square foot stores, was making noises about entering the Canadian market.

Like Beaver's board of directors in 1971, Molson's found itself facing a battle it knew it would not win. It decided to sell most of its Aikenhead's Hardware division to Home Depot in 1994 for $200 million.

One retail analyst likened it to Molson's getting at least something for their trouble, rather than holding out and being crushed in the retail market by Home Depot and lose everything.

March 5, 1995, Winnipeg Free Press

Molson's dream of merging Aikenhead with Beaver to create a national hardware and building supply chain was gone. Seeing the writing on the wall, they announced a corporate restructuring that saw the liquidation its large, urban stores starting in January 1995. By March, they were all gone.

Beaver retreated to smaller towns. In 1999, its remaining 138 stores were sold to Home Hardware for $68 million.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Main Street Underpass Makeover


With news that the Main Street Underpass is getting a makeover with new paint and lighting, I thought I would look back at the history of the structure, which opened in 1904.

Interestingly, right from day one there was controversy about its unsafe, "tunnel like appearance".

You can check out my research here.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Meadows Grain Elevator 1947 - 2017

The ca. 1947 Meadows, Manitoba Paterson Grain elevator is being demolished.

Meadows was created ca. 1882, established by the CPR. It took until 1905 before the settlement was large enough to ask the R. M. of Rossburn for permission to open their own school. A train station was added in 1906.

October 5, 1922, Winnipeg Tribune

Settlers guides from the late 1880s show that there was grain collection from Meadows but it was an informal system where the grain was stored and scooped into rail cars. It wasn't until 1912 that it got its first formal elevator.

Initially, it was run by a local company then sold to the McLaughlin Grain Co. in 1915.

In 1922, Paterson Grain purchased the elevator.

According to the CPR, that year the town boasted a population of 150 with a  school, general store, elevator, oil tank and blacksmith. Before the year was out, however, a fire destroyed the village`s elevator, bank building and blacksmith`s shop.

Meadows`dual elevators, image ca. 1947 - 1953.

Paterson rebuilt a new, 30,000 bushel elevator. A second, 60,000 bushel elevator was added in 1947. An annex was added in 1953.

In 1976, the ca. 1922 elevator was demolished. A new annex was added later that decade.

(Elevator dates and dual elevator images from: The First Hundred Years: 1893-1993.)

When the Marquette elevator was torn down in 2003, rumours were that Meadows would be next, though a representative from Paterson Grain told the Stonewall Argus that there were no such plans at the time.

On June 28, 2017, a permit was signed off on for the demolition of the building structure.

For more images of the Meadows elevator.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Selkirk Treaty Celebrates 200 Years

Treaty document. Click on image for source.

Next week marks the bicentenary of the Selkirk Treaty, the first signed between First Nations and settlers in what would become Western Canada. There are numerous events taking place in the province, including Selkirk, Winnipeg, Peguis First Nation and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, to commemorate the anniversary.

Peguis and Lord Selkirk

In the short time since Selkirk’s settlers first arrived in 1812, Peguis had proved himself invaluable in preventing the destruction of the settlement through his skills as a peacemaker and diplomat.

The Selkirk Treaty, as it has come to be known, on July 18, 1817 at the HBC post Fort Douglas, located on what today is Waterfront Drive in Winnipeg, was meant to seal that alliance and friendship that had built up between the two peoples. The signatories were Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk and five Cree and Salteaux chiefs of the region, including Peguis.

Treaty map. Click on image for source.

The document set out a very specific tract of land that the settlers could occupy in exchange for an annual payment of tobacco, (though that annual payment that never did take place.) The two groups successfully lived and worked together at a settlement at St. Peters until 1907 when those of First nations heritage were removed to nearby reservations.

The word "treaty" has taken on a negative connotation in recent decades, thanks to the "numbered treaties" offered by the Dominion Government starting 54 years later that forcibly relocated First Nations people from much of their land. The Selkirk Treaty, however, is still looked upon by many settler and First Nations organizations as what should have been the model for how the two peoples moved forward together.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Summer 2017 West End Walking Tours !

Join me Thursday evenings throughout July and August for historic walking tours of the West End !